Adding injury to insult: If you got laid off, then you'll probably get sick, too
The latest issue of Demographyincludes a study that surveyed workers who lost their jobs in 1999, 2001, and 2003, and found that many reported health issues after losing their jobs. Kate Strully, a
The study is interesting and timely for showing the actual evidence of what many have long suspected: that stress and anxiety, especially about financial issues, lead to medical problems. A 2008 AOL-Associated Press survey found that people with high levels of debt-related stress had a 44% chance of experiencing migraines or other headaches, compared with only 15% of those with low debt stress. They also had a 27% chance of getting ulcers or other digestive problems (versus 8%), a 29% chance of severe anxiety (versus 4%) and a 23% chance of severe depression (versus 4%).
What can people do to mitigate the mental effects -- and their ensuing physical manifestations -- of job loss and financial insecurity? Being open about your problems seems to help. Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford psychologist, told The Washington Post in 2007 that telling friends and relatives about debt and financial issues can bring some relief. But the bottom line is that financial stress and health problems are inextricably linked, and, worse, they can kick off a vicious cycle of additional financial woes, and additional health problems. It's not a huge surprise that when you lose your job, you bring the pain -- literally -- but with our unemployment rate hitting 8.9% and rising, it's sobering to think of how many of us in psychic pain are in physical pain, too.